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Planting Bulbs Indoors

By Ellen Brown

Planting Bulbs Indoors


Hello Ellen,

I Live in zone 6 or so and currently have freesia bulbs I want to plant but I want to grow them indoors. Do these bulbs need to be cooled for a period of time before planting? If so, for how long?


I also have some tulip bulbs that are starting to sprout that are not yet planted. I'd also like to grow them indoors. I understand there's a cooling period for these. If I can't put them in my fridge, what might my options be?

If I put them in my fridge, I've heard you can't have apples in the fridge. Is this true?

And finally, for what period of time would they have to be in my fridge or is it too late because they're beginning to sprout?

Thanks for any help you can provide from the one who loves only fragrant flowers.

Fragrance Lover


Fragrance Lover,

I'll answer these one at a time.

  • Freesia bulbs don't need chilling. In fact, they are one of the easiest bulbs to force indoors. Just pot them up (2 inches deep and 1 inch apart) and place them in a sunny windowsill. Bulbs (like freesia) that are only hardy to zones 8-9 are not designed for winter so they do not need pre-chilling.

  • How about a friend or relative's fridge? An unheated garage will work, too, as long as the bulbs don't freeze. Treated bulbs must be given sustained temperatures of 35-49 degrees.

  • Fruits, such as apples, pears and bananas, emit ethylene during the ripening process. This gas shortens the flowering period of nearby plants, or in some cases, renders them sterile. It's best to keep fruit out of the fridge while storing bulbs, and the fruit bowl away from flowering houseplants while in bloom.

  • The chilling period varies somewhat according to the type of Tulip, but most require a minimum of 13 to 18 weeks. Somewhere in the middle is probably safe. Going too long won't affect the bulbs, but taking them out too soon could result in the flowers not developing fully.

Good luck!



About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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